BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—Plans by the embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to engage two South African lawyers in the presidential election nullification appeal might hit a snag following a national lock-down and grounding of all planes in their country.
Chief Elections Officer Sam Alfandika says the two attorneys were expected in the country on April 8 but their arrival is uncertain as there are no flights due to the Coronavirus.
“It’s a challenge for us as Malawi Electoral Commission. We are currently in discussion with responsible authorities including the lawyers themselves to see how this can be worked on. Otherwise it’s indeed a challenge and it is something that has to be worked out,” said Alufandika in an interview with Zodiak radio monitored by the Maravi Post.
Alufandika further said the lockdown has not only affected the arrival of their lawyers but also the possibility of printing ballot papers abroad.
“This will depend on whether the lockdown is extended in most of the countries especially in those countries where we get materials for polling especially ballot papers. You know if the lockdown continues and there is travel embargo, flights are not flying in and outside of this country, it is very difficult for us to even print from outside and have these ballots transported into Malawi,” he said.
MEC hired the lawyers at a cost of MK600 million which some quarters argued it was exorbitant.
In its ruling on February 3 this year, a panel of five High Court judges, sitting as a Constitutional Court in Lilongwe, nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election, citing irregularities and the flouting of electoral procedures by MEC.
It ordered that a fresh presidential election be conducted within 150 days of the ruling.
The ruling also gave powers to Parliament to come up with legislation that will govern the fresh elections, including coming up with new Electoral Reforms Bills.
However, President Mutharika and MEC, the first and second respondents respectively, are appealing the case in the Malawi Supreme Court.